Interior Department Announces New Regulations to Increase Clarity and Transparency for Indian Gaming Compact Approval Processes

WASHINGTON (February 19, 2024) — The Department of the Interior today announced a final rule to update the federal regulations regarding Class III Indian gaming compacts. The Indian gaming industry remains one of the most significant drivers of Tribal economic development in Indian Country. The updated regulations provide clearer guidance for Tribes and states to negotiate gaming compacts required by the Indian Gaming and Regulatory Act, and a more transparent and orderly processes for Tribes who are seeking the Department’s approval of their compacts with states

“These regulations are part of the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to ensuring that Tribes have the resources they need to exercise their Tribal sovereignty and support their communities,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Not only does Indian Gaming support Tribal economies, the funding it generates helps to support the vital services that Tribal Nations provide to their citizens—from language preservation to healthcare. By updating these regulations, we will provide certainty and clarity to Tribes for an industry that remains one of the most significant sources of economic development in Indian Country.”

“The federal government has treaty and trust responsibilities to Tribal Nations. A key part of that is our obligation to support Tribal Nations as they work to revitalize communities by opening businesses and creating jobs that strengthen their economic self-sufficiency,” said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “By providing clarity on Class III gaming compact negotiations, the Biden-Harris administration is following through on its commitments to Indian Country.”

The changes to 25 C.F.R. Part 293, which governs the review and approval of Tribal-state gaming compacts, provide clarity on the criteria the Department would consider when deciding whether to approve these compacts by clarifying boundaries as to allowable topics of negotiation, better defining key terms, and clearly outlining when the Department must review a gaming compact.

The final rule reflects input and recommendations provided by Tribes during two listening sessions and seven formal consultation sessions as well as written comments from Tribes and the public submitted to the Department. The new regulations will be effective 30 days after being published in the Federal Register, which is expected in the coming days.

This announcement builds on progress in Indian Country being made through the President’s Investing in America agenda – a key pillar of Bidenomics – which is deploying record investments to provide affordable high-speed internet, safer roads and bridges, modern wastewater and sanitations systems, clean drinking water, reliable and affordable electricity, good paying jobs and economic development in every Tribal community. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law alone invests $13 billion directly to Tribes throughout the United States.